Are you at a sticking point?
Sticking point (noun): An obstacle to progress towards an agreement or goal.
There comes a point in every pursuit where we encounter resistance, whether from our own selves, others, or circumstances beyond our control. Sticking points can occur anywhere—in negotiations, creative endeavors, entrepreneurial ventures, physical exercise, skill-building—and are notorious for leaving us at an impasse.
I'm a big fan of cross-applications in knowledge. If there's information in one field that can lend itself to a useful way of conceptualizing and solving a problem in another area, I'm all for it.
That's why I was pleased to come across this great video by Stefi Cohen about sticking points faced by beginners in the gym. In the context of strength training, Stefi defines a sticking point as that point in the lift where resistance cannot be overcome by the strength in your muscles.
When most people encounter a sticking point during strength training, they make the mistake of either ignoring it or unloading the movement (i.e. reducing the weight or intensity of the lift). Instead, she proposed a few strategies for tackling the problem head-on.
As for me, I couldn't help but think of the cross-applications for someone facing a sticking point in any area of their lives. Without further ado, here are 4 Stefi-inspired strategies for your sticking point:
1) Fix your technique: In a deadlift, this strategy involves examining the readily observable aspects of your technique. For example, are you maintaining tension through the entire lift? Can you generate symmetrical and coordinated muscle contractions? I think of technique as the minutiae that have a big impact on execution. In a different context, it may be as simple as examining your daily approach to work, relationships or life. Are you really facing resistance to your goal or is the real culprit a poor routine, a bad diet, a wavering mindset or a lousy attitude? Fix your technique and see if it addresses your sticking point.
2) Dissect the lift and identify 'weak' muscles - This strategy entails understanding the muscles involved in a lift and doing focused work to first build those muscles before attempting the entire lift. Ask yourself about what skills and traits it will take to bring your particular vision to bear and be ruthless in assessing the weak links. For example, do you lack a particular skill that's intrinsic to the goal you've set yourself? I'm a big fan of spending the bulk of your time building on existing strengths but there are situations and opportunities that demand work on our weaknesses.
3) Actively incorporate variable resistance - In a squat, you can use bands and chains to increase tension and improve speed. For example, with bands in place, you make the ascent harder and the descent faster, which activates and contracts the muscles more explosively. In this sense, resistance isn't always a bad thing. It's all about how you leverage it to become a better performer. Start by paying attention to whatever has the potential to hold you back. Even something as simple as getting intentional about an obstacle, will help you build will-power.
4) Modify your execution style - To reduce the impact of a sticking point during a deadlift, you can try changing the style of your execution. For instance, you could alter your grip or stance width. Execution style is all about how you work on your craft, your project, your goal. We think there's only one way to skin a cat. The way we've always done it. But the best thing about a sticking point is that it forces you to get creative. As a writer, I've long relished the comfort zone of non-fiction but that's hindered me in developing certain rhetorical devices. Lately, I've started to branch out into fiction and it's helped me grow new forms of expression. So ask yourself, are there aspects of your execution style that need to change?